Daily Archives: February 23, 2012

Striking words from the Ash Wednesday Liturgy

“….the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.”

Really hit me hard this year–anyone else notice them?

Posted in Uncategorized

(Reuters Faithworld Blog) An app for keeping kosher during Passover and beyond

With Passover just a month away a new app aims to help consumers keep kosher throughout the eight-day Jewish festival and to stay up to date on kosher products throughout the rest of the year.

Released by the Orthodox Union (OU), which promotes the values of the Orthodox Jewish community, the app called OU Kosher provides consumers with updates on products that have been certified by the OU, which is the world’s largest kosher certification agency.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Michael Green's recent sermon at Trinity School for Ministry on "Personal Evangelism"

Check it out and listen to it some time this Lent.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Her.meneutics) Sharon Miller–Unplanned Parenthood: The Blessing of an Inconvenient Pregnancy

As a woman, I have found that fertility and childbearing highlight my addiction to control more than almost anything else in my life thus far. Women are, after all, trained to control our bodies. Managing one’s appearance and conducting one’s body in a way that honors God are common female virtues in the church. Added to that is the resource of birth control, with which we can control our biological cycles.

This control has extended beyond pregnancy prevention into the realm of pregnancy facilitation. Women are now waiting longer to have children, some because they must, others because they can.

In truth, the control we have over our bodies is an illusion of power that inevitably comes crashing down. For me, the illusion crumbled when I began to think seriously about having children, and recent media stories reveal that I am not alone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily for Ash Wednesday 2012

Another ancient commentary summarizes this beautifully: “Adam was created pure by God to serve Him. All creatures were created for the service of man. He was destined to be lord and king over all creatures. But when he embraced evil he did so by listening to something outside of himself. This penetrated his heart and took over his whole being. Thus ensnared by evil, Creation, which had assisted and served him, was ensnared together with him.”

As we said earlier quoting John Chrysostom, the cursing of the soil had a “medicinal”, or healing, function: meaning that God’s intention is always good and more profound, even than His own curse. The curse does not come from God but from sin. God cannot avoid inflicting the curse because he respects human freedom and its consequences even when they are negative. Thus, within the punishment and within the curse, there is a good intention that comes from God. When He says, “Dust you are and unto dust you shall return”, He intends inflicting a just punishment, but also announcing the way to salvation. This will pass through the Earth, through that same dust, that same flesh which will be assumed by the Word Incarnate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

(RNS) Court Says Quebec Parents Can’t Pull Students Out of Religion Class

Canada’s highest court has ruled that children in Quebec schools cannot opt out of a course on ethics and world religions.

The Supreme Court on Feb. 17 unanimously rejected an appeal from Catholic parents who sought to keep their children out of the course because they felt that exposing them to a variety of religions would confuse them.

The nine high court judges disagreed, saying that exposing children to beliefs and values that differ from their own is a fact of life in Canada’s multicultural society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) Thomas Friedman–Egypt’s Step Backward

Sadly, the transitional government in Egypt today appears determined to shoot itself in both feet.

On Sunday, it will put on trial 43 people, including at least 16 U.S. citizens, for allegedly bringing unregistered funds into Egypt to promote democracy without a license. Egypt has every right to control international organizations operating within its borders. But the truth is that when these democracy groups filed their registration papers years ago under the autocracy of Hosni Mubarak, they were informed that the papers were in order and that approval was pending. The fact that now ”” after Mubarak has been deposed by a revolution ”” these groups are being threatened with jail terms for promoting democracy without a license is a very disturbing sign. It tells you how incomplete the “revolution” in Egypt has been and how vigorously the counter-revolutionary forces are fighting back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Egypt, Foreign Relations, History, Middle East, Politics in General, Violence

One Key section from the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, “Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!” No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, Chapter IX (reading it all recommended).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Polycarp

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who didst give to thy venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, after his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Blessed Lord, grant us thy Holy Spirit to work in us daily a true and lasting repentance, and keep us ever, as contrite Christian people, willing to acknowledge and lament our sins; yet also keep us ever, O Lord, steadfast and strong in our faith in the forgiveness of our sins, and in our purpose to amend our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christian von Bunsen

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

–Habakkuk 3:17-18

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Iran court convicts Christian pastor convert to death

A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.

Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.

It is unclear whether Nadarkhani can appeal the execution order.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Terri Stovall–5 ways to avoid temptation on social media

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has been in the news in the past couple of years, highlighting the use of Facebook as either a cause of infidelity and subsequent divorce or as a way to build a case for divorce. While reports are mixed as to whether social media is playing an increasing role in marital infidelity and divorce, it is clear that this new way of connecting with people can be used for good and for bad.

Whether it’s reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend, private interaction with a co-worker, or making personal info about your life open to an acquaintance, sites like Facebook offer daily opportunities for a downward spiral.

As Christians who seek to follow after God’s own heart and want to protect our marriages and our families, we must determine our personal boundaries when it comes to social networking. Only if we place hedges of protection and accountability around us are we guarded.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lent, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Uruguay Elects Bishop Coadjutor

In the 29th Extraordinary Synod held in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Montevideo, on December 9, 2011, an ample majority elected the Venerable Dr. Michael Pollesel as Bishop Coadjutor. Pollesel is the recent past General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, has functioned as secretary to the Metropolitan Council for Cuba, and has been a frequent visitor to the diocese. Bishop Peter Bartlett of Paraguay was the supervisor of the election for the Province. All candidates standing for election had to subscribe to the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10 on human sexuality as a basis for eligibility.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, South America, Uruguay

(SMH) Tanveer Ahmed–Could it be that a Loss of Faith is Linked to a Rise in Mental Disorders?

Western society has had little success in recreating institutions and forms of solidarity to replace those that declined in importance in the past 100 years, such as the family or the church.

This wholesale loss of group membership is manifest in a heightened desolation of liberal autonomy.

The rise in mental health diagnosis is a sign of this. It is the new market society expressed in emotional terms, a privatisation and categorisation of all human distress. Its costs have passed out of the community and on to the balance sheet of the state.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Touchstone) David Lyle Jeffrey–Our Babel of Bibles

From the perspective of one who values freedom of choice, individualism, and the market, the proliferation of new translations and paraphrases of the Bible must seem, on the whole, a good thing. From a perspective that places a greater value on theological probity, spiritual understanding in the laity, and coherence in the witness of the Church, however, the plethora of English translations and the Babel-like confusion of tongues they create is arguably a calamity. While every new translation is evidently a “market opportunity” and may express in some way the particular slant or voice of individual denominations on certain doctrines, the dissonance and “white noise” of competing Bibles tends to confuse rather than clarify discussion across denominational boundaries. In fact, the “Babel effect” intensifies the confusion.

In addition to new translations, we now have a plethora of “niche” editions, like the “Revolve” magazine-format Bibles, aimed at pre-pubescent girls, whichincludes marginal tips on how to put on makeup and deal with two admiring boys at the same time, or The Veggie Tales Full Text NIV Bible, the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible (in periwinkle blue with a green flower!), the NIV Bible for Busy Dads (or perhaps for dads who aren’t quite busy enough), the Holman CSB Sportsman’s Bible (in camouflage, natch). If you are tired of your mother’s old Bible, which printed the words of Jesus in red, you can choose a more trendy Green Bible, with all the eco-sensitive passages printed in green ink. If you are a feisty woman unfazed by possibly misdirected allusions, then maybe you would like the Woman Thou art Loosed edition of the NKJV. If perchance you should be a high-end of the TV-channel charismatic, there are “prophecy Bibles” coded in several colors to justify your eschatology of choice. If you are a devotee of the U.S. Constitution (the document, not the ship), Tolle Lege Press offers the 1599 Geneva Bible, Patriot’s Edition, complete with a frontispiece portrait of George Washington, a prayer by him, and facsimile reproductions of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States of America (with the Amendments), and finally, a tract on Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior by George Washington.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Books, Church History, Education, History, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry